1. #1
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    Default New Federal Wildland Fire legislation.

    There is a Bill that is about to be introduced to Congress dealing with several aspects of wildland firefighting. The last working title I saw for it is The National Wildfire Infrastructure Improvement and Cost Containment Act of 2009. The Bill is being sponsored by Representative Filner of California with the help of the FWFSA. I have contacted legislators here in my home state as well as Rep. Filner's office to discuss it and have not gotten very far, but hopefully that will change when it is assigned a # in Congress.

    Here is a link to the last draft I was able to get a hold of:

    http://www.wildlandfire.com/docs/200...sion-draft.doc

    I think that there are several vital things in this Bill and feel strongly that we would all benefit from it being passed, both as firefighters and as taxpayers. I hope that some if not all of you agree and will do whatever you can to get some discussion going on it and contact your legislators about it.

    I would also like to hear what comments people have about the Bill itself.

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    Quote Originally Posted by skookumjt View Post
    There is a Bill that is about to be introduced to Congress dealing with several aspects of wildland firefighting. The last working title I saw for it is The National Wildfire Infrastructure Improvement and Cost Containment Act of 2009. The Bill is being sponsored by Representative Filner of California with the help of the FWFSA. I have contacted legislators here in my home state as well as Rep. Filner's office to discuss it and have not gotten very far, but hopefully that will change when it is assigned a # in Congress.

    Here is a link to the last draft I was able to get a hold of:

    http://www.wildlandfire.com/docs/200...sion-draft.doc

    I think that there are several vital things in this Bill and feel strongly that we would all benefit from it being passed, both as firefighters and as taxpayers. I hope that some if not all of you agree and will do whatever you can to get some discussion going on it and contact your legislators about it.

    I would also like to hear what comments people have about the Bill itself.
    I just glanst over the bill and seem to think the opposite. Federal (USFS, BLM, etc) employees have the better job, IMO. I work for a state FS and we do not receive hazard pay, feds do. They get 25% increase in their hourly wage when performing regular fire fighting duties. We get nothing for fighting the same fire(s). I dont understand the point of loosing FFs to state positions. I've been doing this since 1999 and I would rather have a Fed job than a state, without having to travel all over the US. This bill may help the local state level FFs, I'll have to look into the bill more. Maybe higher pay for Feds will get us more on the state level. I'm not against the bill just think its opposite of the way it really is.

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    Thanks for taking the time to look at the legislation and to reply on the forum. I hope that you have a chance to look more closely to see if you still have the same thoughts.

    One of the primary reasons that the Feds lose employees is due to the mandatory retirement at 57. This means the most experienced folks move on to work for state agencies or private contractors because they still have plenty of good years left in them.

    On the other end of the retirement issue is that you cannot work for the Feds if you don't start before you are 37. This precludes many people who would be valuable resources from getting a chance to get into the system.

    Not all of the state agencies get paid portal to portal, but some do which ends up being significantly more than Feds do and they get to stay in hotels-not in tents in fire camp.

    Currently Federal firefighters get paid while they are on the fireline, but not while they are in camp even though they are required to stay in camp, be ready to respond at any time, and so on. They are off the clock, but certainly not on their own time or free to do what they want.

    There are other parts of the legislation that have nothing to do with firefighters or pay, just how the money budgeted for fire programs is used. Right now much of the money is not being diverted from it's intended use which is just wrong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by skookumjt View Post
    Thanks for taking the time to look at the legislation and to reply on the forum. I hope that you have a chance to look more closely to see if you still have the same thoughts.

    One of the primary reasons that the Feds lose employees is due to the mandatory retirement at 57. This means the most experienced folks move on to work for state agencies or private contractors because they still have plenty of good years left in them.

    On the other end of the retirement issue is that you cannot work for the Feds if you don't start before you are 37. This precludes many people who would be valuable resources from getting a chance to get into the system.

    Not all of the state agencies get paid portal to portal, but some do which ends up being significantly more than Feds do and they get to stay in hotels-not in tents in fire camp.

    Currently Federal firefighters get paid while they are on the fireline, but not while they are in camp even though they are required to stay in camp, be ready to respond at any time, and so on. They are off the clock, but certainly not on their own time or free to do what they want.

    There are other parts of the legislation that have nothing to do with firefighters or pay, just how the money budgeted for fire programs is used. Right now much of the money is not being diverted from it's intended use which is just wrong.
    I will look over the entire bill and take a few notes. Forgot about the age limits. On most details, I've stayed in hotels most of the time, but not all times. I am familiar with the budget diversions. Its not right. I'll get back in a bit.

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    Default retention

    In California the Federal fire programs are having HUGE issues retaining personal. Many have moved on to more lucrative jobs(read better hours, more money)with cities or Cal-Fire and have left the Forest Service, BLM, USFWS. I personally know of several engines in California that sat Out of Service all season due to lack of overhead(captain, FEO, Assitant FEO) to man the engine.
    Alot of Forest Service personal are now working for Cal-Fire. One of the many reasons is the work week and the portal to portal pay. Forest Service(and BLM, NPS, and USFWS) uses a 40 hour work week, normally 9:30-6(30 minute off the clock, on call lunch), 5 days a week. Where as the cities and Cal-Fire have a straight 72 hour shift(or less in the case of most cities). Many people prefer to work 3 days then have 4 days off. Of course when there are fires, eveyone is working for multiple weeks no matter what the normal work schedule is. Which brings me to Portal to Portal. Cal-Fire gets paid from the moment they show up for there shift until the moment they return to the station and end shift, no matter if thats 3 days for 52 days straight.(has happened before) Where as with the Feds you can ONLY work a maximum of 16 hours a day on a fire and thats all you get paid for. As earlier noted your still basically on call, but your not getting paid while you sleep.
    This is just some of the reasons that we in California are having problems. And in Cali its a BIG deal right now, anytime you talk to a FS firefighter you will hear retention come up. I have not had time to read the bill, but I do know some people in the FWFSA and they are a good group so it can't be that bad of a deal.
    Also the website that the document is linked to has a good discussion about the bill.

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    Default Wild land firefighter/engine boss

    I do not believe that the facts in the bill are completely accurate. Fire suppression in region 6 has in the past few years begun a transition to using privately contracted fire fighting companies to aid in fire suppression. This results in significantly less costs to the federal government because it is the responsibility of the private company to supply and cover costs of workmans comp. overtime pay, equipment and gear, travel expenses, fuel, holiday pay, etc. The government also is not responsible to pay hazardous duty pay, or retirement pay. Training is also paid for by the contractor and because of heavier qualification requirements agreed to in contracts, most private fire company employees are better trained than federal employees. It hasnt always been that way, but times are revolving and things have changed and are changing at a rapid pace the past few years. Private fire fighting resources make up a substantial part of the fire fighting efforts in region 6 and is expanding rapidly to other regions.

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